published Friday, April 26th, 2013

Chattanooga takes lead in state manufacturers group

CMRA AWARDS

* Card-Monroe - Company of the Year

* Propex - Safety Award

* Cormetech - Environmental Award

* Lodge Manufacturing - Energy Award

A planned statewide association aimed at better focusing on issues vital to manufacturing is in the works and led by Chattanooga officials.

Tim Spires, the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association president, said the Tennessee Association of Manufacturers is expected to be running by July 1.

"It will represent manufacturers across the state," Spires told a group of about 200 people at the CRMA's excellence awards meeting. "We have a logo and we're ready to go."

The dues-paying association will operate out of Chattanooga for the foreseeable future, said Spires, who also initially will oversee it.

Spires said there are over 300,000 manufacturing jobs in Tennessee.

"We want to see that maintained and to grow," he said.

Spires cited a need for work on education and workforce development, and he said that surrounding states also have such groups.

The state already has a Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry. But Spires said that group has a broader membership than manufacturers and TAM will zero in on issues that concern that sector.

Gov. Bill Haslam, in a statement, said Tennessee was No. 1 in the Southeast and No. 4 nationally in manufacturing job creation in 2012.

"Our Jobs4TN strategy is focused on the industry as an area where we have a unique competitive advantage, and with the help of organizations such as TAM we will continue toward our goal of making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs," he said.

Dan Nuckolls, the immediate past board chairman of CRMA, said there's a need to reach beyond that group's current territory in Southeast Tennessee.

"We want to provide services and support to all manufacturers across the state," the Koch Foods official said.

In mid-2010, Spires took over what was then the Chattanooga Manufacturers Association. He later expanded its reach beyond Hamilton County and the 'Regional' was included in its name.

State Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, who was at the CRMA meeting, termed TAM "a great step forward."

"To take this concept across this state, it can't do anything but make Tennessee even better," he said.

Konrad Bachhuber, who's overseeing construction of Wacker's $2 billion polysilicon plant in Bradley County, said manufacturers across the state have the same needs.

"Manufacturing is one of our foundations," he said.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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